As usual, I disagree.

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Mike Meyer

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Nov 30, 2001, 9:53:10 AM11/30/01
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Anthony Atkielski <ant...@freebie.atkielski.com> types:
> Mike writes:
> Keep in mind that the early versions of Windows had no preemptive multitasking;
> an application held control of the processor until it decided to voluntarily
> relinquish it with a call to the OS. There wasn't much reason for filtering,
> since there was no significant parallelism of execution, anyway. Windows 9x
> started to do a bit of preemption, but it still stalls when applications are
> hogging the system. Windows NT is immune to this, but instead it tends to
> thrash when there are many applications in the system, because of (IMO) the need
> to fill and service message queues for all open applications with windows.

I'm fully aware of the origins of windows, and even pointed out why
those origins took it out of the category of "systems designed from
scratch for windowing UIs". That NT has to provide the same
functionality to be compatible with W9x is a sad thing.

> > So far, you haven't demonstrated that the
> > Windows way is any more flexible or functional
> > than the X way.
> The 100,000 applications provide the flexibility and functionality.

That may make the desktop more flexible and functional, but not the
underlying windowing system which we were discussing. Unless you can
demonstrate an application which can't be done on X, the sheer number
don't matter.

> > I don't know that I would call it a covert
> > channel.
> You can learn or transmit information about other processes about which you
> should know nothing by determining or influencing their states. This provides a
> low-bandwidth covert channel, and is thus a (small) security risk.

Unfortunately, that channel *has* to exist because the window manager
couldn't function without it. As I stated before, you eliminate that
small risk by not allowing untrusted clients to connect to the server.

Just out of curiosity, if I'm using one of the remote access methods
for NT, is there anything that prevents me from running a program that
opens a window on the screen and thus get access to the same
information?

> > As far as I can tell from your description,
> > the only difference between Windows and X is
> > that in Windows passes every event to every
> > client to let the client choose, resulting in
> > a boatload of context switches ...
> Yes.
>
> > ... whereas in X the clients have specified
> > which events they want, and X does the determination
> > internally, so you don't get context switches
> > for clients that don't care about an event, which is
> > a major savings as most clients don't care
> > about events in other windows.
> Yes.

In other words, the Windows approach is no more flexible or functional
than the X approach, just a lot more expensive. That that's because of
it's roots as a single-tasking program loader actually gives some
credibility to your argument that Unix is bad on the desktop because
of it's roots as a multiuser server. But I think I already agreed that
having capabilities you don't use is an expense you could avoid. Just
not nearly as bad as having to provide backwards compatability for
systems that didn't have capabilities that you need.

<mike
--
Mike Meyer <m...@mired.org> http://www.mired.org/home/mwm/
Q: How do you make the gods laugh? A: Tell them your plans.

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Anthony Atkielski

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Nov 30, 2001, 10:08:11 AM11/30/01
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Mike writes:

> That NT has to provide the same functionality
> to be compatible with W9x is a sad thing.

I suspect that, even if NT provided the option of filtering messages (and
actually it does, to a limited extent, as do all Win32 environments),
programmers would just whine about it. Most Windows programmers have never been
beyond a desktop, and have no concept of multiprogramming, multiuser systems in
which they must actually share resources with other software and respect
security mandates. Any restriction on what they can do would upset them.

> That may make the desktop more flexible and
> functional, but not the underlying windowing system
> which we were discussing.

Maybe, but you need both to get anything done.

> Unless you can demonstrate an application which
> can't be done on X, the sheer number don't matter.

The sheer number matters a lot, when you are looking for something on the
shelves of a computer store. A _theoretical_ ability to do the same thing on X
is worthless to the average user; it's meaningful only if it comes on a CD in a
box.

> Unfortunately, that channel *has* to exist
> because the window manager couldn't function
> without it.

Yes. Another problem with windowed GUIs.

> Just out of curiosity, if I'm using one of
> the remote access methods for NT, is there
> anything that prevents me from running a
> program that opens a window on the screen
> and thus get access to the same information?

You'll have to be more specific. As a general rule, NT and Windows overall make
little provision for remote graphic interfaces to the machine, or for interfaces
of any kind, except for sharing of files and printers and other non-interactive
services. One of the horrors of NT administration is trying to do _anything_
from a distance; all administrative tools are graphics-based, so you have to be
running a Windows machine to use them, and the protocols used to connect them to
a server are so complex and bandwidth hungry that very often you can't do
anything at all. In many cases I've resorted to pcAnywhere (which just exports
entire screens from the host machine) to do things, but it is dog-slow compared
to a simple command-line interface.

No matter what Microsoft would like to think, NT and its relatives are not
timesharing multiuser systems in any practical sense, because of their excessive
emphasis on GUI interfaces (and nothing else). Nobody suffers from this more
than NT administrators.

In some cases, I recall having to send an engineer to a distant customer site in
person in order to accomplish anything, since no attempt to communicate with his
servers remotely could be made to work.

> In other words, the Windows approach is no more
> flexible or functional than the X approach, just
> a lot more expensive.

You get what you pay for. If you want access to 100,000 applications, you have
to pay something for that. However, traditionally Microsoft has only charged
$30-$40 per copy of Windows on preinstalled machines. Compare that to $1000 or
so in some cases for the microprocessor (easily half the cost of the machine,
and often with at least 50% margin for Andy).

Mike Meyer

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Nov 30, 2001, 11:06:40 AM11/30/01
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Anthony Atkielski <ant...@freebie.atkielski.com> types:

> Mike writes:
> > That NT has to provide the same functionality
> > to be compatible with W9x is a sad thing.
> I suspect that, even if NT provided the option of filtering messages (and
> actually it does, to a limited extent, as do all Win32 environments),
> programmers would just whine about it. Most Windows programmers have never been
> beyond a desktop, and have no concept of multiprogramming, multiuser systems in
> which they must actually share resources with other software and respect
> security mandates. Any restriction on what they can do would upset them.

I've noticed that. One of the things that makes Windows an unpleasant
desktop for me is that many of the applications act like they are the
only thing running, which make using the multitasking ability of the
system much more painfull than it is on Unix.

> > That may make the desktop more flexible and
> > functional, but not the underlying windowing system
> > which we were discussing.
> Maybe, but you need both to get anything done.

True. Unix has enough applications to be flexible enough to get the
job done.

> > Unless you can demonstrate an application which
> > can't be done on X, the sheer number don't matter.
> The sheer number matters a lot, when you are looking for something on the
> shelves of a computer store. A _theoretical_ ability to do the same thing on X
> is worthless to the average user; it's meaningful only if it comes on a CD in a
> box.

That's true for only one of the users I know. For the rest, it only
matters if they can download a copy from the net, or get one from a
friend.

> > Just out of curiosity, if I'm using one of
> > the remote access methods for NT, is there
> > anything that prevents me from running a
> > program that opens a window on the screen
> > and thus get access to the same information?
>
> You'll have to be more specific. As a general rule, NT and Windows overall make
> little provision for remote graphic interfaces to the machine, or for interfaces
> of any kind, except for sharing of files and printers and other non-interactive
> services. One of the horrors of NT administration is trying to do _anything_
> from a distance; all administrative tools are graphics-based, so you have to be
> running a Windows machine to use them, and the protocols used to connect them to
> a server are so complex and bandwidth hungry that very often you can't do
> anything at all. In many cases I've resorted to pcAnywhere (which just exports
> entire screens from the host machine) to do things, but it is dog-slow compared
> to a simple command-line interface.

First, you might try VNC instead of pcAnywhere. VNC seemed faster than
pcAnywhere in the cases I've tried it. You can also access it from X,
or any java-capable web browser. They claim that on PC's you can use
it with the SVGA library, but I've not been able to get that to work.

Basically, I'm not interested in opening a window and *doing* anything
with it. I'm interested in being able to get the flow of events, and
possibly manipulating other windows on the screen.

> In some cases, I recall having to send an engineer to a distant customer site in
> person in order to accomplish anything, since no attempt to communicate with his
> servers remotely could be made to work.

That's one of the things one pays for RISC hardware for. If you don't
plug in a screen, it will assume the PROM access is via a serial
console. This means you can do everything that doesn't require
actually touching the CPU box remotely.

> > In other words, the Windows approach is no more
> > flexible or functional than the X approach, just
> > a lot more expensive.
> You get what you pay for. If you want access to 100,000 applications, you have
> to pay something for that.

Can't argue with that. Since even heavy users seldom use more than a
few hundred applications, having access to a few thousand is usually
sufficient, and doesn't require the cpu resources of windows.

Of course, to make sure that your critical applications run on the
platform you're chosing, you should select those first, then select
the OS they run on best, *then* chose the hardware platform that will
best support that OS.

<mike
--
Mike Meyer <m...@mired.org> http://www.mired.org/home/mwm/
Q: How do you make the gods laugh? A: Tell them your plans.

To Unsubscribe: send mail to majo...@FreeBSD.org

Anthony Atkielski

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Nov 30, 2001, 5:06:13 PM11/30/01
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Mike writes:

> One of the things that makes Windows an unpleasant
> desktop for me is that many of the applications
> act like they are the only thing running, which
> make using the multitasking ability of the system
> much more painfull than it is on Unix.

Yes. That is a tremendously common design error in Windows applications, and
I've even seen it in Microsoft products (for example, I hate the way many MS
products force themselves to take the input focus when they are
started--sometimes I want to start the application but still do other things
while it is coming up).

> Unix has enough applications to be flexible enough
> to get the job done.

Not for the desktop.

> That's true for only one of the users I know. For
> the rest, it only matters if they can download a
> copy from the net, or get one from a friend.

Your users must be mostly geeks. Non-geeks don't know how to download things
from the Net.

> First, you might try VNC instead of pcAnywhere.

I don't plan to attempt any remote administration of NT if I can avoid it.

> Since even heavy users seldom use more than a
> few hundred applications, having access to a

> few thousand is usually sufficient ...

The problem is that they don't all need access to the _same_ thousand
applications.

Chad David

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Nov 30, 2001, 5:19:30 PM11/30/01
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On Fri, Nov 30, 2001 at 11:05:49PM +0100, Anthony Atkielski wrote:
> Mike writes:
>
> > Unix has enough applications to be flexible enough
> > to get the job done.
>
> Not for the desktop.

Interesting, I've been using it on my desktop for years.

>
> > That's true for only one of the users I know. For
> > the rest, it only matters if they can download a
> > copy from the net, or get one from a friend.
>
> Your users must be mostly geeks. Non-geeks don't know how to download things
> from the Net.

That hasn't really been true for 2-3 years. Every user I know can
download things from the net... in fact I sometimes wish they would forget!

>
> > First, you might try VNC instead of pcAnywhere.
>
> I don't plan to attempt any remote administration of NT if I can avoid it.

You must not have servers on then 18th floor, users on then 12th and your
desk on the 10th :).

--
Chad David dav...@acns.ab.ca
ACNS Inc. Calgary, Alberta Canada

Mike Meyer

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Nov 30, 2001, 5:44:33 PM11/30/01
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Anthony Atkielski <ant...@freebie.atkielski.com> types:
> Mike writes:
> > Unix has enough applications to be flexible enough
> > to get the job done.
> Not for the desktop.

For any desktop that doesn't require the ability to work with
proprietary formats, there are. Getting locked into a proprietary
format is a bad business decision, but if you don't know what that
means, you're liable to do it because it's cheaper.

> > That's true for only one of the users I know. For
> > the rest, it only matters if they can download a
> > copy from the net, or get one from a friend.
> Your users must be mostly geeks. Non-geeks don't know how to download things
> from the Net.

Nope. None of them are geeks. My mother, who's a retired art
teacher. A couple of truck drivers. An appliance repairman. An
aircraft maintenance engineer. A sprint customer service
rep. One handles commercial accounts for a local hotel. Another is the
assistant manager at Borders. Only one of them deals with the computer
as anything but an appliance, but most of them know how to download
things from the net.

The hotel guy bought his first computer less than a year ago, and has
already cancelled digital cable TV to get a cable modem
instead. That's how much he values being able to download things from
the net.

> > Since even heavy users seldom use more than a
> > few hundred applications, having access to a
> > few thousand is usually sufficient ...
> The problem is that they don't all need access to the _same_ thousand
> applications.

Actually, they don't all need access to the same _hundred_
applications. That's why a selection of a few thousand is enough for
most people.

I'm sure there are some small niche markets for which usable software
only exists for Windows. Of course, there are also small niche markets
for which software only exists for Unix. The auto mechanic I used in
the sf bay area ran all their accounting/ordering software on Sun
workstations, for instance.

<mike
--
Mike Meyer <m...@mired.org> http://www.mired.org/home/mwm/
Q: How do you make the gods laugh? A: Tell them your plans.

To Unsubscribe: send mail to majo...@FreeBSD.org

Chad David

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Nov 30, 2001, 6:52:04 PM11/30/01
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On Fri, Nov 30, 2001 at 11:48:33PM +0100, Anthony Atkielski wrote:
> Chad writes:
>
> > Interesting, I've been using it on my desktop
> > for years.
>
> Your application requirements are probably more circumscribed than most.

I don't know, I've gone from systems programmer to President and CEO of a
software company back to "retired" programmer without ever having a need
that AIX/Solaris/BSD couldn't fill (except maybe Starcraft for a while).
For example, it wasn't that long ago that WordPerfect was the desktop
standard, and it ran just fine on Unix.

>
> > That hasn't really been true for 2-3 years. Every
> > user I know can download things from the net... in
> > fact I sometimes wish they would forget!
>

> They can download MP3s and games, but typically they don't know how to download
> or even how to find most other stuff.

What exactly is stuff? If you can download an MP3 or games you should
be able to download anything else?

Anthony Atkielski

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Dec 1, 2001, 7:01:04 PM12/1/01
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Giorgos writes:

> This is not fair. You are making assumptions
> about someone you don't know, and are using those
> assumptions as an argument to support a claim
> of yours that has long been lost in the thread
> history.

Which claim is that?

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